With David’s Sling, Is­rael has com­plete shield

The Jewish Chronicle - - WORLD NEWS - BY ANSHEL PFEFFER

IN A cer­e­mony at Hat­zor Air Force Base on Sun­day, Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu de­clared the David’s Sling mis­sile de­fence sys­tem op­er­a­tional.

David’s Sling is de­signed to in­ter­cept mid-range mis­siles, fill­ing the gap be­tween the short-range in­ter­cep­tor Iron Dome and the Ar­row 2 and 3 sys­tems, which can deal with high-alti­tude threats.

Is­rael is now the first coun­try in the world with a com­plete, multi-layer mis­sile de­fence shield cov­er­ing its en­tire ter­ri­tory.

How­ever, de­fence plan­ners have no il­lu­sions that it is a per­fect sys­tem.

Mis­sile in­ter­cep­tion tech­nol­ogy is still in its in­fancy. David’s Sling has yet to be op­er­a­tionally tested but, since many of its es­sen­tial com­po­nents are based on Iron Dome, which achieved a high suc­cess rate over the last five years, it is a rel­a­tively safe bet. Ar­row also scored its first op­er­a­tional “kill” last month when it shot down a large Syr­ian S200 anti-air­craft mis­sile which, hav­ing failed to hit an IDF jet, was on a tra­jec­tory to­wards Is­raeli ter­ri­tory.

But there are fi­nan­cial ques­tion marks. In­ter­cep­tor mis­siles are ex­pen­sive, cost­ing from £60,000 apiece (Iron Dome) to $3m (Ar­row 3). Hizbol­lah, Ha­mas and other ter­ror groups are es­ti­mated to have nearly 200,000 rock­ets of dif­fer­ent ranges, most of them cheap and mass-man­u­fac­tured.

Mean­while, Hizbol­lah and Ha­mas are stock­pil­ing more ac­cu­rate mis­siles.

For these rea­sons, pre­emp­tive at­tacks on the launch sites will re­main an in­te­gral part of Is­rael’s de­fence doc­trine for the fore­see­able fu­ture.

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